Friends came to an end more than a decade ago, but it still seems to be one of the best love sitcoms of all time. The show centered around six main cast members and their lives as friends and relatives in Manhattan. Over the course of the ten seasons of the show, Friends became one of the most popular shows on TV at the time, to the extent that the main cast was earning $1 million dollars per episode in the late 1990s.
When Friends was first pitched, it wasn’t expected to become the worldwide phenomenon that it once was, which meant that many of the stars who were cast in the show weren’t considered to be the first choice for the roles by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. There were many stars who auditioned for the show when it was still in its pitching stage that would have been more recognizable to the audience at that time.
This means that there are a number of superstars from all over Hollywood who auditioned for a role in the show and weren’t accepted, as well as many that the creators had in mind when they were writing the part, but quickly changed their mind when the actor in question finally auditioned. The following list looks at just 15 stars who could have played the famous group of friends if the six cast members in question had failed to audition for the show all those years ago.
15. Kathy Griffin Was An Option For Phoebe
Judging by the way that the creators attempted to cast Phoebe, it seems that she was originally pitched to be much funnier than Lisa Kudrow actually played her. There were a number of comedians that the creators had in mind when imagining the role of the guitar-playing masseuse. One of these women was Kathy Griffin.
It is quite difficult to imagine Phoebe with fiery red hair but this does paint a picture of how the creators actually wanted Phoebe to be portrayed. Thankfully, it seems that Lisa Kudrow was able to give Phoebe her own spin and rather than being remembered for her comedy skills, Phoebe is now remembered as one of the shows best-loved characters on the show. If she had taken it in that direction, she would have been directly competing with Chandler Bing for funniest character in a number of scenes.
14. Courteney Cox Wanted To Play Rachel, And Jennifer Aniston Wanted To Play Monica
It seems that both Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox gave the creators something of a headache throughout the audition process, since Courteney first came in and auditioned for the part of Rachel Green. The creators then actually offered Courteney the part of Rachel before she requested to be given a chance to read for Monica, because she wanted to play a much stronger woman.
It was a completely different scenario for Jennifer Aniston, since she came in to audition for the role of Monica Geller before it was made obvious that she wasn’t what the creators were looking for, but she could have been perfect for the role of Rachel. It’s crazy to see that both women actually wanted to be cast in different parts than they were given in the end. These creators really knew what they were doing and were able to put both women into roles that were perfect for them.
13. Jon Cryer Could Have Played Chandler Bing
Jon Cryer has become an international star over the past few years for his role on Two and A Half Men but back in the early 1990s, Cryer was sent a script for a show that was called “Six of One,” which was one of the awful earlier names for the show, and asked to attend an audition.
Cryer was in London at the time and was unable to fly over to Los Angeles in time to be considered for the part of Chandler, so instead, he decided to send over an audition tape. Lucky for Matthew Perry, Cryer’s tape never got to the creators in time for him to become a part of the process to find an actor to portray the sarcastic main star. Cryer is probably kicking himself now when he thinks of the fact that he could have been cast in one of the biggest sitcoms of all time if the mail had been delivered faster.
12. Ellen DeGeneres Was First Choice For Phoebe
The talkshow queen of the world Ellen DeGeneres was actually considered for the role of Phoebe Buffay in Friends during the early rounds of the casting process. The creators of the show thought that she could bring some added comedy to the role, but Ellen decided to turn it down and instead concentrate on the other many opportunities she was given at that time.
Ellen was actually the first choice person to play the role of the quirky character, but Ellen had much bigger plans for herself and has since gone on to become a worldwide star in her own name. Ellen is considered to be one of the funniest female hosts that the world has to offer right now, which would definitely have brought a new level of comedy to the show if that’s what the creators were looking for.
11. Elizabeth Berkley Could Have Played Rachel
Elizabeth Berkley had captured the hearts of the world for her role as Jessie Spano on Saved By The Bell when the show ended in 1993. Elizabeth liked the idea of joining Friends as Rachel Green.
Elizabeth is one of very few actresses who could have done the role justice if Jennifer Aniston wasn’t cast in the role instead. She proved during her spell on Saved By The Bell that she was able to portray the kind of character that Rachel was at the beginning of the show. Elizabeth obviously wasn’t cast in the role; it is unknown why, but perhaps the creators saw Aniston as a better fit. Instead, she went on to shock the world with her racy role of Nomi Malone in Showgirls. Elizabeth’s role in the cult 80s show catapulted her to stardom, so it seems that she didn’t need the role of Rachel Green to become a star.
10. Nancy McKeon Nearly Beat Out Cox For The Role Of Monica
Considering how well Courteney Cox plays the role of Monica, it is hard to understand why there were so many actors who were almost given the role. Even though Jennifer Aniston was given the part of Rachel, it seems that she actually wanted to play a much stronger character, so the creators allowed to her read for Monica.
The Facts of Life star Nancy McKeon was another star who was also considered for the role of Ross Geller’s uptight, cleanliness-obsessed sister and even delivered what was said to be a terrific performance in her audition, one that had all of the producers torn. The creators and producers then decided to go for a walk and decide who it was that was going to be cast in the role. Incredibly, they all come back and had unanimously decided that it was Cox, which must have been quite a painful process for McKeon to go through.
9. Jane Krakowski Was Also Considered For The Role Of Phoebe
Lisa Kudrow brought a new dynamic to the show with the Phoebe Buffay character that was smart in her own way, but also able to drop to the level of Joey when needed. Many members of the audience actually believed that Joey and Phoebe would be together at the end of the show, which shows how much chemistry the two had.
It seems that Lisa Kudrow wasn’t the first choice for the role. It was actually Kauffman and Crane’s vision to have Jane Krakowski play the part. Jane has become well-known for her roles in Ally McBeal and had something quite intimidating about her, which may not have worked so well for the Phoebe character. It is unknown if Jane was given the chance to audition for the role, or if she turned it down, but it was a part that was written with her in mind. Jane was actually considered for both Rachel and Phoebe, but in the end wasn’t chosen for either of the roles.
8. Eric McCormack Could Have Been Ross Geller
David Schwimmer brought something special to his role as Ross Geller. It would be hard to see any other actor playing Ross, but it seems that David is another star who wasn’t the first choice to play him.
It seems that Eric McCormack, who became famous for his role as Will in Will and Grace was part of many successful auditions before the role was eventually given to David. It is unknown how much differently Eric would have been able to portray Ross, since David added a new level of comedy to his role in the later seasons after being somewhat quiet in the early days of the show. Eric did win an Emmy for his role in Will and Grace, so it probably does bear thinking about what he could have done with the Ross character.
7. Leah Remini Was Considered For Monica
It’s hard to image Monica being played in a much more sarcastic and dark way, since the audience came to love the character that Courteney Cox developed when she was cast in the part instead.
It seems that when Leah Remini was considered for the role, the creators were still exploring a dark side of Monica, one that perhaps wouldn’t have been able to marry Chandler. Remini obviously became well-known for her role as Carrie in King of Queens, a show that she was on for nine seasons. Clearly, missing out on the part didn’t affect her career overall. Remini is another star who auditioned to be a main character but was later added to the show anyway. She plays a woman who Joey helps to give birth while he is at the hospital waiting for Carol to give birth to Ben.
6. Tea Leoni Was Who The Creators Had In Mind For Rachel
Tea Leoni rose to fame in the late 1980s after she was part of Angles 88, which was an updated version of Charlie’s Angels. Leoni was the woman that the creators had in mind when it came to the part of Rachel Green, but she turned down the part.
Leoni instead opted to take part in a series called The Naked Truth, which was cancelled after just three seasons. After Leoni decided against taking the role, it seems that Jennifer Aniston was able to step in and become one of the most famous members of the Friends gang. Aniston managed to step into a number of Hollywood roles following her time as Rachel and could easily be considered the most successful of all the Friends stars, but if Leoni had decided to take the part instead, it could have been a completely different story.
5. Janeane Garofalo Was Who The Creators Had In Mind When Writing The Character Of Monica
Courteney Cox went on to become the much loved Monica Geller after she was cast in the role quite early in the audition process, but it seems that like many of the other stars who were cast in their roles on the show, Courteney wasn’t the one that the creators had in mind when they were writing her character.
David Crane confirmed that it was Janeane Garofalo‘s voice that was in his head when they were bringing Monica to life, because they saw her as much darker and edgier. Janeane would have definitely brought something different to the Monica character, but her introduction to the cast could have potentially turned the show on its head somewhat. It’s hard to think of anyone but Courteney as Monica, but with someone like Janeane playing her, it’s hard to imagine her story ending in the happy way that it did.
4. Jon Favreau Could Have Been Chandler
It’s odd to think that Chandler Bing could have been played by someone that wasn’t Matthew Perry. It seems that his portrayal of the character was a level of perfection that even the creators didn’t expect, but he wasn’t their first choice for the role.
The role was very nearly given to Jon Favreau, who many fans at the time didn’t know very well. He has since gone on to star in a number of blockbuster movies, including the Iron Man series and Daredevil. Luckily, Favreau decided to turn down the part so that he could concentrate on his budding career as a writer, but he was later cast in the show for a minor role anyway. Favreau appeared in six episodes of the show back in 1997 as Monica’s rich boyfriend Pete Becker, whose dream was to become a cage fighter. Sadly, Monica couldn’t support this dream so the couple couldn’t work things out.
3. Jane Lynch Auditioned For The Role Of Phoebe
Phoebe Buffay was never supposed to be a sarcastic character that fans loved to hate, but it seems that Glee star Jane Lynch actually auditioned for the role at one point, which could have been one of the most radical casting decisions that the creators could have made.
It is unknown what happened to Jane’s audition tape or whether or not she was considered for the role at all. All that is known is that she got her hands on a copy of the script and decided to audition for the role of Phoebe. It doesn’t even bare imagining how different the show would have been with Jane on the cast list, but luckily, Jane went on to become a huge star in her own right without the boost that appearing in Friends would have given her. The Glee star is actually more famous now than Lisa Kudrow, who went in to be chosen for the role.
2. Hank Azaria Auditioned Twice For The Role Of Joey
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Matt Le Blanc being able to play Joey Tribbiani and do the character justice, but it seems that there were a number of other stars who were interested in the part of the Italian ladies man before Le Blanc was cast.
Hank Azaria, who was known for his voice work on The Simpsons at the time, was one of the stars who wanted to be part of the show that was titled Friends Like Us when he was first handed a script. Hank was rejected following his first audition for the part but later asked for another audition where he was once again rejected. It isn’t all bad news for Hank, though. It seems that the creators saw something in him and decided to bring him back to play the role of David, who is one of Phoebe’s love interests in the early seasons of the show.
1. Lisa Whelchel Could Have Been Rachel
Jennifer Aniston went on to win the hearts of a nation as Rachel in the hit TV show. Her chemistry with David Schwimmer made for one of the most memorable on-screen relationships. Before Jennifer was able to be transformed into Rachel, it seems that there were many other women who wanted the role. The Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel was one of these women. She revealed a few years ago that she actually read for the part of Rachel when the show was still in its pilot stage and she recalled that even then she thought the show was going to be a hit comedy. She said that she decided against pursuing the role because she knew that the show was going to find a lot of its comedy in s*x, something that the show didn’t actually become known for.
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